Last Request

       By Rebecca McKenzie

    God was dead. There was no God.

    The grim reality echoed within Krelian's mind again and again, combining with the visions of the fierce collision just seconds before to make for a near maddening revelation. His heart was broken, his faith was shattered. They would all live on... Zephyr of Shevat, the brash young Roni Fatima, Lacan that loathsome painter, and he himself, Krelian. Thanks to Sophia, their lives were spared; at the cost of her own ultimate sacrifice. Nothing was left of Nisan, Shevat's gruesome deal was completed. Solaris had won again, even as it's main command ship was lost.
    Now what was the point? All was lost! Their prayers for mercy were cast out to nothing more but the wind. They had lived on, only to see the horrid reality of this failure.
    And even now, Krelian could still see the wreckage of Sophia's great flag ship, flaming and smoking into nothingness as it's shattered parts fell into the ocean far below.
    Solaris' massive attack ship had hit it directly as it carred on it's fatal mission, causing it to ignight with flames by explosion after explosion as its suicidal collision course drove the Nisan Militia's last and greatest ship onward. It did not matter either way. Sophia's sacrificed had save this small group's lives, but thousands more lie dead in the battlefields they had come from. The massive, blinding ferocity the final explosion was not hardly the climax to this awful scene... No, not as Krelian had heard it at least...
    In those last fated moments, a voice broke over the radio recieve still clutched awkwardly by Krelian, even as he stared in disbelief at the scene far above them.
    It was Sophia's voice... Sophia's calling, barely audiable above the cackling of static of distance and explosions combined. In all his pleading for her to stop, to yield,  to let he and the rest die, Krelian had gotten no compliance from the determined pilot of the doomed ship.
    He begged, pleaded, tried to reason in any way until he was left near tears.... "This is what I have to do." Was thr only, distant response from his beloved Sophia, the Holy Mother of Nisan.
    In that final stretch, every cannon of the massive Solarian ship aimed striaght for it, Nisan's great leader literally staring  into the eyes of death from her set place within the otherwise deserted bridge. She would be alone in her death, alone in her sacrifice.
    Krelian had jerked the radio back up upon the very instant her voice broke the silence. This would be her final message, whether words of wisdom, love, or peace.
    All members of the group gathered around him uneasily, putting off the deadly enemy gears in their grim curiosity. Yet, the gears too were still, pilots watching the impending impact from their cockpits in what had to be a mixture of shock, uncertainty, and awe. When at last Sophia's sweet voice broke the silence over the radio, time itself seemed to come to a halt in an instant of silent, rapt attention.
    History would never know those words. Why should it? They meant nothing... Nothing at all save to two men.

    For what she said was far less general... It was personal, directed to not the group it self, or the world, but one single person. The words she uttered over the fading transmission of the radio were far more than enough to freeze Krelian's very blood in their shattering, heart-wrenching impact upon him.
    She hadn't called out to Krelian himself, she hadn't called out to her many faithful followers and loves. She hadn't even called out in an oath to God! Instead, she had called to...


    Of all the people, of all her followers, of all her loved ones, she called to that one simple painter. Krelian hadn't the time to react, nor did any of the others present. All eyes fell upon the figure of the artist, all eyes save Krelian's, whose gaze was fixed upon the radio that faintly spat the final insult to him over a endless droning of crackling and static.
    All feelings of petty jealousy he had ever had for Lacan, regardless of what lessons of tolerance and acceptance Sophia had taught him, were amplified a thousand times over. His blood boiled. His world shattered, his dreams crumbled. All images of Sophia, her charming grace, her loving smile, crumbled as if before his very eyes. Worst of all, his fervent love was snuffed out. She had called to the damned painter!
    Reality came crushing down on him, a force that drove his hopes into the corner of the soul, and made the very ground below seem to melt away. But that wasn't the end of it. Sophia hadn't finished yet.

    "Lacan...! Lacan can you hear me?" The painter stepped forward uncertainly, not believing his own ears even as he relinquished the radio from Krelian's limp hands.

    "S... Sophia...? Elly?" How prefectly demure he sounded, some little lost child humble yet eager to recieve the words of his Mother.

    And 'Elly'... He had called her Elly!! What name was this? Not once, not once in all the years Krelian had spent with her did he come to know that name. Wretched titles of formality always accompanied the name Sophia to him, never anything personal, never anything intimate! God, what had she told him through those endless painting sessions? What had happened? Why must she love HIM?
    Pathetic, undeserving Lacan! Krelian so wanted to tear the radio from the arist's oily hands, thrust it into the sea far below, and let that be the end of it...

    He had loved her damn it! Had she been oblivious the entire time? Did she not see how he fought for her, swore by her name, stayed by her side through all the trials Nisan had faced? Did she not see how his feelings had grown and matured.  How he labored to increase his knowledge, faith, and inner peace, in an effort to prove himself worthy of she and her chosen d